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The Search for Certainty: On the Clash of Science and Philosophy of Probability Hardcover – April 17, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-9814273701 ISBN-10: 9814273708

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company (April 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9814273708
  • ISBN-13: 978-9814273701
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,094,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is an interesting and important book. --Larry Wasserman, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Edwards on May 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The first thing you have to get over in the book is the slightly rough ESL delivery. I also personally consider it a clear defect when every paragraph and section starts by declaring what grand things will be revealed in subsequent text - just say it already!

On to business, this book is written by someone who, like me, is not fully on board with all the accepted thinking about the nature of probability. That's good and why I sought out the book. But early on the author presents his slightly cryptic theory, unappealingly named "(L1)-(L5)". Seriously. I kept thinking of it (referenced 100s of times) as some kind of weird ascii art. Could the author think of no better way to refer to his system of thought (like "frequentist", "Bayesian", "subjective")?

Digging into the author's system, right away on "L1" I notice ambiguity. He says that "Probabilities are numbers between 0 and 1...." Since this is a very abstract thing which he doesn't really relate to intuition, I feel free to assume he's using his mathematician's magic hat and wants to be very, very punctilious about things in only ways that mathematicians can. Mathworld defines "between" as a system of 3 *distinct* points, technically ruling out the possibility that a probability could be 0 or 1. But "L5" says "An event has probability 0 if..." Now, perhaps it seems I'm picking at details, but isn't that the whole point of fancy math? I'm all for chilling out about the importance of fancy math, but you can't just use this kind of extreme pedantry only when it suits you. If the author is making clearly ambiguous and contradictory statements in the core of his whole thesis, then how seriously am I going to want to figure out what else he has to say?
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